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Ptom a pholograph madt about At ytar iStb 




Willis Bruce Dowd 
of the new york city bar 





** Virtus laudem imperial '* 







10 James Grant 

There was another James Grant, the 
father of the subject of this sketch, who 
was bom and reared on that estate and 
had a numerous family, and then James 
Grant the third made his entrance 
upon the stage of life there on December 
12, 1812. While it is peculiarly appro- 
priate, as will presently appear, to bear 
in mind the seven stages, quoted so often 
from Shakspere, it does not behoove 
us to linger upon that phase of our 
subject's life which saw him an infant, 

"Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms, 
And then the whinning school boy with his 

And shining morning face, creeping like snail 
Unwilling to school." 

It is well to observe, however, that 
he was a precocious child, and after a 
primary education at a country school 
where the classics were taught, he was 
prepared for the University at Chapel 
Hill, North Carolina, at the early age 
of thirteen years. When he went down 
with his father, who also had attended 
the University, to matriculate, his en- 
trance was frowned upon because he 
was so small and so young. Under the 

A Model American 11 

advice of the president of the University 
he was taken back home and put on the 
farm for outdoor exercise for two years. 
Then in 1828, at the age of fifteen, he 
returned to the University and gradu- 
ated high up in the class of 1831. He 
was so advanced when he returned to the 
University after his vacation, that he 
was able to enter the sophomore class, 
and thus finished the curriculum before 
he was nineteen years of age. He was 
a most proficiept student, ranking high 
in all things, but especially in mathe- 
matics and the classical languages. 

After graduation he taught school 
about two years at Raleigh, the capital 
of the state, and while there he studied 
law, having decided upon a career at 
the bar. 

This brings him to twenty-one years 
of age, when we discover in him the first 
manifestation of that combination of 
intelligence and cotirage which made 
him the great man he became. 

Let us take a look at him and see 
what his physical appearance was at that 
time. Of small stattire, being not over 
five feet eight inches in height, he had 
a frail and delicate body, which gave 

12 James Grant 

no promise of developing strength and 
ruggedness. •indeed, he was always a 
man of delicate health. He had, how- 
ever, well-shaped limbs, and a head 
larger than the ordinary, which was 
surmounted by an abundance of dark 
hair. His eyes were of that changeble 
gray which is associated so often with 
genius. His movements were quick, 
and he gave every indication of being a 
person of nervous but decisive tempera- 
ment. His nose was prominent and his 
mouth was somewhat broad and firm, 
and his voice deep and commanding. 
On the whole, his personality, as he 
came to maturity, could not have been 
considered heroic, but it bore every 
impress of great capacity and great 

He had somehow acquired an aversion 
to slavery and for that reason he desired 
to emigrate from the South. He loved 
and respected his parents and therefore 
he did not communicate his aversion 
for slavery to them; he did not wish to 
cause a discussion which might give 
annoyance or distress to his mother and 
father. Hence he resolved to find a 
path over the hills of his native state, 

A Model American 13 

and into the partly undiscovered West. 
He saddled his- horse, and with a few 
hundred dollars, which he had saved 
out of his earnings as school teacher, he 
headed for the Blue Ridge, as the 
mountains of North Carolina were and 
are familiarly called, and thence wended 
his way into the blue grass of Kentucky. 
Then, somehow, things drifted in the 
wind from the Northwest that there 
was a place on Lake Michigan, called 
Chicago, which had about five hundred 
inhabitants, and a great future. Young 
Grant took his chance with many other 
persons and headed for Chicago. There 
he obtained a license to practise law 
in January, 1834; and it is noteworthy 
that he had a fist fight over his first 
client. It is hard, perhaps, for the young 
lawyer to have to suflEer corporal pun- 
ishment for the sake of his client's 
cause, but the client is not likely to 
forget the fact or to scrutinize the bill 
too closely under such circumstances. 
Young Grant found ample proof of 
these truths in a short while, for we 
find him presently enjoying the fruits of 
a large clientage, and making and saving 

14 James Grant 

The people of Davenport, Iowa, have 
reason to say that it is an ill wind that 
blows nobody good, for the lake winds 
at Chicago impaired otir subject's health, 
and his physician advised him on that 
account to locate further west. We 
may say, therefore, with entire regard 
for the truth, that he was blown west to 
a site near the present city of Daven- 
port, Iowa. He settled there on the 
18th day of June, 1838. At that time 
the state of his health was so poor that 
he seriously contemplated spending the 
remainder of his years on a farm, and 
for that reason he bought a place on the 
river about twelve miles from the site 
of the present city of Davenport, and 
took up his residence there. At that 
time, Davenport proper was not in 
existence, but when the settlement 
commenced to grow up he moved into 
Davenport and continued to reside there 
for many years. Now, Iowa was not 
even a territory at that time, but it was 
created one five days later by an 
act of Congress; so it appears that 
young Grant exercised good judgment 
in locating at a place which would 
be sectirely within the protection of 


Judge Dillon, who found eacourage 
early yeare of his ' * 
Judge Grant, and ti 

"Municipal Corpor; __ ._ , _ .. 

library, dedicated the second volume of his "Circuit 
Court Reports" to hia long-tima friend and benefac- 
tor, as follows: "For five and thirty years we have 
lived in the same town, and during the latter half 
of that period much of my time has been spent in 
your library. It gives me pleasure to avail myself 
of a graceful usage to record my high regard for 
you'as a lawyer and a citizen, and my mccere at- 
- ' ' — on as a friend." 

A Model American 15 

the laws of the United States govern- 

On the 8th day of January, 1839, he 
married his first wife, Sarah E. Hubbard 
of Massachusetts, but she unfortunately 
died in June, 1842. Then in January, 
1844, he married Ada C. Hubbard, 
who had emigrated from Vermont to 
Scott county, Iowa, of which Daven- 
port was the county seat. She, too, 
died about two and one-half years 
later, and then in the month of June, 
1848, James Grant took unto himself a 
third wife, Elizabeth Brown Leonard, 
who was a native of Griswold, New Lon- 
don county, Connecticut, who proved 
to be in all respects a model helpmate, 
and survives her husband to this date, 
enjoying a green old age with her people 
in the West. Although a child was born 
of each the first and second marriages, 
neither of them survived the tender years. 

We now have our subject firmly 
attached to the soil of Iowa, in which 
he was destined to spend his great 
energies, and to achieve lasting fame. 
It is well enough to take note of some 
of the essential qualities upon which 
he relied for success. 

16 James Grant 

He was conscious, of course, of a 
strong capacity to see, understand an4 
utilize the material things that were 
around and about him. His education 
had been thorough and he had been 
equipped in mind to make his calcula- 
tions within the smallest fractions of 
exactness. He was prepared to do his 
life's work without much waste. He 
was trained to look at the essential 
and dispense with the non-essential 
thing. All of these elements of his 
mentality resulted in what Judge Dillon 
himself has characterized as '^practical 
sagacity which amounted to genius.'* 
But by reason of his power of elimina- 
tion and his conscious strength to per- 
ceive and utilize the essential thing, he 
was made bold to take hold of large 
problems. From first to last his mind 
was broad and daring. 

We see him as a lad planning a uni- 
versity course, and as a youth the 
principal of a school in the capital of his 
native state, and as a young man just 
turned his majority a pilgrim on horse- 
back on what he himself called a forty 
days* journey from Raleigh to Chicago 
by way of Kentucky. Afterwards a 

A Model American 17 

bold pioneer to the West taking up his 
residence on a farm near Davenport, 
but laying the foundations for the 
greatest legal career that any man ever 
achieved in that state. 

It was part of his great plan of life 
to possess all the implements of his 
profession and to have them easily at 
hand. He seemed to realize the truth 
of Sharswood's maxim, that the law- 
yer's difficulty *'is not so much to know 
the law as where to find it.'* There- 
fore he commenced to accumulate law 
books, and in the course of time pos- 
sessed the largest and most satisfac- 
tory library in the state of Iowa. It 
was indeed the largest law Hbrary in 
the Northwest, and contained more 
than six thousand volumes, which 
were accumulated at an expense, since 
most of the volumes were extremely 
rare, of something like fifty thousand 
dollars. This library was offered to the 
practising attorneys of its owner's ac- 
quaintance, and many of them freely 
consulted his books when working up 
cases against him. Concerning this 
library, Judge Dillon relates the follow- 
ing interesting fact: — 

18 James Grant 

When the legislature required a term of 
the Supreme Court of the state to be held 
twice a year at Davenport, it was made a 
condition that it should be without cost to 
the state, a species of economy, by the way, 
which has nothing to recommend it. The 
better to accommodate the court and the 
bar. Judge Grant fitted up a room for the use 
of the court above his library, and set it 
apart for them for several years, neither 
receiving nor expecting compensation. The 
judges and bar of the state cannot but feel 
how much they are indebted to him for ac- 
cess to a library which was until recently 
the only one in the state at all complete. 

He was a great and a systematic 
worker. It was his habit to rise early, 
sometimes as early as four o'clock, 
and he was often found by members 
of his household delving into books 
by candle light. The wonder is that he 
had time to study so many things and 
become thorough in them. It is surely 
a great task for any man to master the 
profession of law, but he became, as we 
shall presently see, a master of railroad- 
ing and mining and smelting also. He 
was not an experimenter in anything, 
but he was a schooled and graduated 
expert in law, metallurgy and rail- 


A Model American 19 

One would think that his time was 
all devoted to work, but it was not so. 
Under the roof of his Davenport home, 
after the war, he had a household such 
as has seldom been seen in this or any 
other country. The following account 
of it was given by his nephew, Hon. 
Whitaker M. Grant: **When I went to 
his house in 1868, the family consisted 
of himself and wife, his mother-in-law, 
three of his wife's nephews and nieces, 
and two of his own; I made three. 
Within a year he had three more of his 
own and one of his wife's, and beside, 
these he had three more of his own off 
at school, who some part of that time 
were at the house. * * All of these nephews 
and nieces were under age, and the 
eldest was seventeen. Judge Grant 
had surely asstmied a great task in under- 
taking to care for and educate these 
children. He had, to be exact, twenty- 
four nephews and nieces in the South, 
and his offer was to each and every one 
of them that he would transplant them 
at his own expense and provide for them 
amply if they would emigrate to the 
West. Twelve of them accepted his 
offer. He was not a rich man at that 

20 James Grant 

time, and his fortune did not exceed 
seventy-five thousand dollars when he 
undertook this prodigious work of kin- 
ship and humanity. He threw himself, 
however, with his accustomed zeal and 
thoroughness into the duties of pater 
familias for all his nephews and nieces 
who had accepted his offer to come to 
the golden West and grow up with it. 
He laid down certain hard and fast rules 
by which they were to be governed, and 
he would tolerate no departure from 
those rules. One of those rules was that 
the children were all to be in bed at ten 
o'clock at night; another more impor- 
tant one was that they were to render 
an account to him of the expenditures 
of all the money he advanced to them. 
He had no patience with deception or 
duplicity of any kind. It is highly 
profitable to note that his demand upon 
himself was for the truth on all occasions, 
enabling him to become an expert in 
detecting an error or falsehood in other 
people. That is one of the secrets of 
a great lawyer. 

It was one of his ideas in hygiene 
that fruit should not be eaten after 
nightfall, and therefore he commanded 

A Model American 21 

the occupants of his household to observe 
this rule. The idea provoked a great 
deal of merriment among the youngsters, 
who thereupon took delight in concealing 
apples in their beds and eating them 
immediately before going to sleep. On 
one occasion, the Judge had his sus- 
picions aroused that his orders were 
not being obeyed in this particular, 
and he unexpectedly burst into the 
room where several of the children were 
about to go to sleep. They gasped at 
his appearance and tried to conceal 
among the bedclothes the apples they 
were eating. They were fairly caught, 
but the Judge suppressed a broad grin, 
and left the room immediately, saying, 
"I advise you to keep the rest of them 
until breakfast." 

In all essential things he was adamant ; 
in things desirable but not vital he had 
the softness and sweetness of a rose. 

He was always fond of horses and 
chickens. He had high-bred horses 
and game chickens about him. He was 
for a number of years president of the 
American Trotting Association. It 
would be unfair to conceal the fact that 
he took great delight in seeing game 

22 James Grant 

cocks fight, and he personally pitted 
his game birds against those of any of his 
neighbors who might wish to challenge 
him. He undoubtedly drew his fondness 
for this sport from the South, where 
it was formerly a favorite pastime 
among men generally. 

It is both useful and highly interesting 
to consider more minutely the relation- 
ship between Judge Grant and his 
nephew, James B. Grant. The Governor 
would not himself admit any favoritism, 
and doubtless none was intended, but 
circumstances created it, and perhaps 
the secret of it lay in the fact primarily 
that the nephew's name was James. 
From the time of George II there 
had been at least one James in the 

When young James B. Grant reached 
Davenport and consulted his uncle, 
he found no disposition to select a 
career for him, or to hamper him in 
whatever career he might select for him- 
self. Judge Grant told him that if he 
wished to become a lawyer he would 
help him to that end to the exent of his 
ability; but the young man did not like 
this profession, for the reason, given by 

of Denver, Col. 
Nephew and prottg* of Judge Grant anc 
partner in mining and smelting 

A Model American 23 

him, that he had not a classical educa- 
tion. The upshot of it was that he chose 
the profession of civil and mining en- 
gineer and went to Cornell for that 
reason, where he was graduated in 1875; 
he then went to Freiburg, Germany, 
for two years, returning by way of 
Australia and New Zealand and San 
Francisco, which was a long journey 
in those days. His education at home 
and abroad had cost his uncle about 
eight thousand dollars. 

One would think that the Judge might 
well have left his nephew to shift for 
himself at this point, but it was not so. 
Not a great while after the young man 
returned from Germany, but after he 
had essayed some independent work 
of his own selection, his uncle volun- 
tarily loaned him five thousand dollars 
with which he advised him to buy a 
mining property in Colorado. This the 
young man did and received two thou- 
sand more with which to open the mine. 
Then he found to his chagrin that he 
had opened only a hole in the ground; 
that all of his engineering and mining 
skill, acquired at so great an expense, 
had gone for nothing. He had lost his 

24 James Grant 

uncle's money and had made a dismal 
failure of life. 

It did not seem so to his uncle. The 
judge promptly sent for the nephew, 
and his wife wrote an affectionate letter 
telling him not to bother about the lost 
money, that it was not a great amotmt, 
and that the Judge would not worry 
Over it. When young Grant came to 
the presence of his uncle he was amazed 
to hear the older man say that he had 
expected the loss of the money and was 
rather glad of it because it would help 
to develop the bump of caution on his 
nephew's head. He then informed his 
nephew that he had planned to give 
each of his nephews and nieces the 
amount of twenty thousand dollars by 
will, but that he would give the share 
set apart for James B. Grant to him at 
that time, if the nephew would accept 
it, and go in partnership with him and 
build a smelter at Leadville to cost not 
less than forty thousand dollars. Judge 
Grant proposed to put up the other 
twenty thousand dollars himself. This 
proposition so astounded the young man 
that he thought he had better have a 
few days in which to consider it, and at 

A Model American 25 

the expiration of that time, he went 
back and told his uncle that he felt he 
could not accept the offer, that if it 
was all the same he would wait until his 
uncle's death for the money that was 
coming to him. At this, the Judge 
laughed heartily, and said he would not 
be done out of his project to utiHze 
the highly educated talents of his 
nephew in work with himself. He 
therefore submitted another proposition, 
which was to the effect that he himself 
would supply all the capital and take 
all the risk, and that young Grant must 
go out and build the smelter and operate 
it, and if it should become profitable 
the two would become partners upon 
certain terms which were made by the 
originator and proposer of this daring 
enterprise. As the result of this last 
proposal on the part of Judge Grant, 
the young man went to Leadville, which 
was then in the beginning of its renown 
as a mining centre, and bought a prop- 
erty which proved highly profitable. 
This was in the year 1877. During 
ninety days of operation of the smelter, 
in 1878, they made a profit of thirty 
thousand dollars, and in one month of 

26 Jatnes Grant 

1879 they made thirty thousand dollars, 
and in 1880. after fifteen months and 
seven days, they had three hundred and 
sixty thousand dollars profits. The 
judge got back his advancements with 
eighty thousand dollars profits, having 
made the most liberal allowance to his 
nephew for producing these splendid 

Judge Grant then became very much 
interested in • mining enterprises and 
had at one time about half a million 
dollars invested in these properties. 

An extraordinary circumstance in 
his life was that when he was past the 
age of sixty years he went to the Boston 
Institute of Technology and took a course 
in metallurgy, placing himself on an 
equal footing with the other students 
and reciting with them. This required, 
of course, several months. Afterwards, 
when one of his friends inquired why he 
did this extraordinary thing, he stated 
that in the course of his dealings with 
his nephew, James B. Grant, while they 
were operating a smelting property at 
or near Leadville, that gentleman po- 
litely informed him that he knew little 
or nothing about that business and that 

A Model American 27 

it would be to their joint interests if 
he would return to Davenport and de- 
vote himself to his chosen occupation of 
practising law. He said he could not 
stand to have any nephew of his say that 
he did not know all about any business 
in which he was engaged. We may be 
quite sure that thereafter he was not 
afraid to talk about minerals with his 
expert partner, who bore diplomas from 
Cornell and Freiburg. 

Perhaps the reader will infer that this 
course of conduct towards James B. 
Grant was exceptional, but it was not. 
It was characteristic of Judge Grant. 
He never made any small plans. He 
never did anything by halves. He was 
all for his work and for the project in 
hand. Like a mariner who knew his 
port and was confident of his craft, he 
feared no sea or weather, but rather 
enjoyed the uncertainty of the deep 
and an occasional tempest. 

Further evidence of his daring is 
seen in the fact that on one occasion he 
proposed to two of his nephews, young 
James B. Grant and William Keiser, 
that he would equip them with a letter 
of credit for fifty thousand dollars if 

28 James Grant 

they would go down to Texas, buy three 
thousand head of cattle and drive them 
over the country to the Chicago market. 
This was in 1871. The boys reluctantly 
accepted the proposition, got on their 
horses and rode twelve hundred miles 
through woods, over plains and across 
the lands of many Indian tribes to the 
cattle country, but there the project 
came to an end. They found the cattle, 
but concluded not to buy because the 
journey overland homeward, with such 
a large herd, would be hazardous, in 
view of the uncertain reputation of the 
Indians who had to be encountered 
en route. They therefore returned and 
delivered to the Judge his large amount 
of money, receiving a smiling look but 
no reproof for their failure to bring 
the cattle. 

This was the real man, always able 
and anxious to take a hand, always 
blazing his own paths and always turn- 
ing from the disappointment of one 
task to find another and a bigger one. 

It is not profitable to dwell at length 
upon the offices which he held, for they 
were only surface indications of the real 
career of the man, but we may make 

A Model American 29 

brief mention of some of them. While 
he lived in Chicago he was appointed 
by Gov. Joseph Duncan prosecuting 
attorney for the sixth district of IlUnois, 
an office from which he resigned in 1836 
to give more particular attention to his 
home practice. He rode this circuit 
on horseback and covered about thiree 
thousand miles a year. In 1841, after 
he had removed to Iowa, he was elected 
a member of the House of Representa- 
tives of the Fourth Iowa Territorial 
Legislative Assembly, and in 1844 he 
was elected delegate for Scott county to 
the first constitutional convention, and 
in 1864 he was the sole representative 
of that county to the second constitu- 
tional convention of the territory, and 
it is hardly necessary to say that in both 
conventions he rendered noteworthy 
services. He was appointed by Gov. 
Chambers of Iowa, against his protest, 
prosecuting attorney, and in the year 
1847, after the adoption of the Consti- 
tution under which Iowa was admitted 
into the Union, he was elected a judge 
of the District Court of Iowa and served 
during his term of five years, decUning 
a re-election. His last appearance upon 

30 James Grant 

the stage of life as a legislator was in 
1852, when he was Speaker of the Iowa 
Legislature. He had now tasted all the 
sweets of official position, and being 
full of the expanding energy of his day 
and generation, and reaUzing the great 
demands of the time in the great West, 
he set himself to do a much greater and 
more enduring work as a man. He 
returned to the practice of his profession, 
giving special attention to railroad cases. 
He also became personally and finan- 
cially interested in railroad enterprises, 
and was the first President of the 
Chicago and Rock Island Railroad 

From that date, during some twenty 
odd years, he devoted himself with un- 
remitting energy to his professional and 
business matters, and had at one time 
the largest practice of any man in the 
United States, perhaps, before the 
Supreme Court at Washington. He 
made at one time in a railroad case a 
fee exceeding one hundred thousand 

No record of Judge Grant's career 
would be reUable or honest which did 
not take account of some of the in- 

A Model American 31 

firmities of his character. The very 
celerity of his mental operations made 
him sometimes intolerant of dullness or 
sloth in others. .He was full of wise 
saws and sajdngs and tried to confine 
his life to them, but temptation often 
beset him. One of his main maxims 
was that **civility and poHteness cost 
nothing, and pass current in all the 
markets of the world," which he often 
quoted in his ofiice and at home. 
Another one of his firm beliefs was that 
cheerfulness and good humor should 
always go with a good appetite to the 
family table. He insisted that there 
should be good humor and merriment 
always in his family at meal times. 
Nevertheless, he could not always con- 
trol his temper, and on one occasion, 
when his nephew, Whit. M. Grant, was 
found by him having a hot altercation 
with a man, he called the young man 
aside after the affair was over and said, 
"Son, a soft answer tumeth away wrath. 
You should not have scolded that man, 
but let him think he was having his own 
way.'* A few days after that, the man 
with whom the nephew had had the 
altercation came back and had an 

32 James Grant 

angry dispute with the Judge about the 
same subject-matter. Judge Grant lost 
his temper completely and knocked 
him down, whereupon, the nephew, who 
could not resist the temptation to have 
a laugh at his uncle's expense, ap- 
proached him and said, **Uncle, why 
didn't you try the soft answer on him?" 
The Judge immediately regained his 
composure and laughed, saying, "Yes, 
yes, I should have done so/' He was 
a constant reader of the Bible, and often 
quoted it, but like most other men he 
was not quite able always to live up to 
its precepts. 

We find him now, after the lapse of 
fifty years from his matriculation, at 
the University of North Carolina, re- 
turning to deliver an address to the 
Alumni at Chapel Hill on the 6th day 
of June, 1878. Here, surely, we shall 
find some outcroppings of that secret man 
who had been planning and achieving 
so much in all those years. "The 
motions of his spirit" must necessarily 
be felt somewhere in this notable ad- 
dress, which he delivered in the ma- 
turity of his powers to the alumni of 
the university at which he received 

of Oklahoma City, Olda, 

Sometime law partner of Judge Grant, ai 

United States Attorney in Alaska 

1 885- 18S9, under Cleveland 

A Model American 33 

his most effectual training for his life's 
work, and before a large gathering of 
graduates, some of whom had been in 
his class of the year 1831. 

Accordingly, we find that he retained 
a strong affection for the people and 
institution of his native state, and that 
he did not undervalue the work of the 
university which had drilled into his 
mind and heart the principles upon 
which he had built the edifice of his 
life's work. Said he : — 

In all my wanderings, the old North State 
has never lost its place in my memory or 
affections. To me, in the full maturity of 
manhood's days, in the enjoyment of the 
recollections of a long life, there is always 
a well-spring of happiness in the memories of 
the past which cluster around the humble 
home of childhood's hours; and I. rejoice that 
the poverty-stricken boyhood, which stimu- 
lated me to go to the other, and, as I think, 
a better land, was passed in the pine-barrens 
of your sea coast, and that the sturdy man- 
hood, the independent spirit, the indomitable 
will to succeed, were all made a part of my 
existence in the quiet shades of these college 

That surely is a noble appreciation of 
life, worthy of remembrance by every 
youth who bears the name of an American. 



34 James Grant 

His address discloses the most thor- 
ough and complete understanding of 
the progress of the world in his day and 
time, and particularly of the develop- 
ment of steam power, including the 
origin and growth of railroads, which 1 

was a particular pet of his mind. He 
thought, of course, that his half century 
of active Ufe had been in the golden age 
of the world, since it had seen the prog- 
ress of railroading from the time of a 
protest to Parliament against the pas- 
sage of an act which would permit a 
train, with passengers, to travel more 
than twelve miles an hour, to the opera- 
tion of trains between New York and 
San Francisco within six days, and 
giving to travelers the comforts of 
sleeping accommodations en route. 

Let us hear him a moment on this 
subject: — 

The first railway for the carriage of pas- 
sengers was the Stockton and Darlington, 
thirty-seven miles long, built in 1825. The 
carriages were drawn by horses. At this 
period the only improved means over the 
common highway of intercourse between 
different marts on land were canals, which 
in the northern part of the temperate zone 
were, like the rivers, frozen over for one-half 

A Model American 35 

of the year. The business was so badly con- 
ducted that the transport of a bale of cotton 
from Liverpool to Manchester is said to have 
occupied as long a time as that required for an 
ordinary voyage across the Atlantic in sailing 
vessels. All the commerce between the Atlan- 
tic and Ohio was by wagons. ^ 

Mankind, even in the face of all our 
progress, is slow to adopt anything new. 
The fate of Fulton is not peculiar. Howe, 
the sewing machine man, long after his inven- 
tion was in practical use, was thought to be 
a cracked-brain enthusiast. The canal inter- 
ests in Britain had such influence in Parlia- 
ment as to delay for years the passage of a 
bill to construct a railroad from Liverpool to 
Manchester. The act was passed in 1828. 
The line, when begun, was to be used to con- 
vey goods, and the wagons to be drawn by 
horses. When the proposal was made and a 
prize offered to induce the use of steam power, 
an eminent authority, in a serious treatise 
on the subject, "hoped he might not be con- 
founded with those enthusiasts who main- 
tained the possibility of carriages being driven 
on a railway at such a speed as twelve miles 
an hour." 

It is noteworthy that there is no 
mention of dining cars, wireless teleg- 
raphy, phonographs, typewriters, tele- 
phones, dirigible balloons, aeroplanes, 
radium, electric lights, or other modem 
contrivances in thi^ address, which 

36 James Grant 

reviews with so much satisfaction the 
achievements of the half century be- 
tween 1828 and 1878. None of them 
was known at that time. It is a wise 
man who perceives that the coming age 
will outdo his own. Nevertheless, it 
is well for each age to appreciate its 
own achievements. Judge Grant was 
not overestimating the world's achieve- 
ments of his day and generation. That he 
knew and appreciated those achievements 
whether in science, art, or in practial 
matters is fully manifested in this ad- 
dress from which we have been quoting. 
But is there not somewhere among his 
spoken words on this the most notable 
occasion in his Ufe some suggestion of 
that innermost motive of his life, which 
impelled him to utilize all the gifts and 
advantages with which it pleased Provi- 
dence to surround him for the benefit 
of his fellowmen? Yes, and it is a brief 
but convincing passage. We find it 
at the close of the address: — 

Brothers Alumni! What part have we 
acted in this grand drama of human life, 
during this period of progress in the world, in 
which we could not, if we would, have been 
merely spectators? Have we so lived in the 

of Denver, Col. 

Nephew and prati^i of Judge Grant, and the first 

surgeon to perform a successful operation 

for appendicitis, January i, 1885 



A Model American 37 

service of mankind to be a guardian god 
below? Have we employed the mind's brave 
ardor in heroic aims, such as might raise us 
over the common herd and make us shine for- 
ever? That is life. 

That surely is a great and noble concept 
of the plan of creation and of life. In the 
Heavens one God, and on earth every 
man, according to his power and his voli- 
tion and habit, a guardian god of his 
less capable and less achieving brethren. 

It behooves us now to trace his career 
down to its close, and we shall find that 
even to his last hour he exemplified the 
best characteristics of human nature. 
In the year 1880, realizing the com- 
mencement of the decline of his powers, 
he went to California ajad invested con- 
siderably in mining and agricultural 
properties in that state. He took up 
his residence near Fresno. He devoted 
much time to the cultivation of fruits, 
and was particularly anxious to set an 
example to the rural population in the 
cultivation of the soil. He was bom on 
a farm, he had lived while in active 
practice much of the time on a farm, and 
now he retired to a farm for the end of 
his career. 

38 James Grant 

He and his wife were now removed 
far from the scene of their most active 
days, but they were by no means idle. 
Their home was so much less frequented 
by visitors, however, that on one occasion 
when James B. Grant, his nephew, now 
ex-Governor of Colorado, was on a visit 
to them, he inquired of his uncle whether 
he did not feel lonely in his remote 
surroundings. To this the Judge replied 
with a smile on his face, **No, I am not, 
I want you to understand that I am 
good company for myself." 

We may believe that he was, since 
it was his habit to read the great plays 
of Shakspere two or three times a year, 
and it was a delight of his life, even to 
the end of it, to pore over the familiar 
pages of Virgil and Cicero, which he 
knew almost by heart, so much so that 
he had the reputation in certain quarters 
of talking Latin. It is said on good 
authority that his warm attachment 
for Senator Wade Hampton of South 
Carolina, and also for Senator Matt. 
Whitaker Ransom of North Carolina, 
to whom Judge Grant was a first cousin, 
was based largely upon the fact that 
they were so much at home in Latin. 

A Model American 39 

This was doubtless an exaggeration, but 
the fact remains that each of these men 
was a highly proficient classical scholar. 

Of course, Judge Grant was never 
lonely, since he was ever in mental and 
spiritual communication with the great- 
est and best men in the world's history. 
He , possessed in a large measure the 
"King's Treasuries,*' which John Ruskin 
has so beautifully described. 

Now, at last, we see him in his seventy- 
eighth year stricken and abed in his 
California home, now at Oakland, con- 
scious of his impending dissolution. 
His good wife, realizing his condition 
and knowing the desire of his heart, 
sends messages to his favorite nephews 
to come quickly if they desire to see 
their uncle again before his death. A 
tinge of romance is given to the picture 
when we see ex-Gov. Grant alone re- 
sponding in time; the others arrived 
too late. He speeds from Denver to 
that distant California home and finds 
the aged jurist and man of affairs far 
spent and about to depart for that 
undiscovered country from which **no 
traveler e'er returns." 

He arrived on Saturday and spent 

40 James Grant 

most of the next ensuing forty-eight 
hours near the bedside of the djring 
uncle. He was anxious to know whether 
that uncle would say anything on the 
subject which had been always avoided 
by him, his religious convictions, but 
not once did the mind of his uncle give 
forth a word thereon. That he was a 
man of deep religious convictions there 
is no doubt, but the privilege he yielded 
to others he exercised himself, to worship 
God in his own way. The following 
passage from an address which he de- 
livered before the Scott County Pioneer 
Settlers Association at Davenport on June 
9, 1872, sufficiently attests that fact: — 

We organized society in the desert. We 
who survive enjoy civilization in its highest 
form and whatever is found to be most useful 
in the arts. Whatever of happiness there is 
in morality and in intelligence, in the school 
and church, in education and refinement, in 
constant and easy intercourse with our fel- 
lows, in confidence and cheap transit of trade, 
and sale of products of labor, in the telegraph 
and printing press — is ours to-day and to the 
end of our lives. 

Most of the old settlers of this country 
survived the privations, the wants, the perils 
and poverty of frontier life. They endured 
most suffering from 1833 to 1834, but they 

A Model American 41 

lived to greet the dawn of a better day for 
themselves. They saw the bright sunshine 
of the rosy fleeced mom of prosperity, and 
lived to feel its meridian splendor on them- 
selves and their families. 

Surely goodness and mercy attended them 
all their days and they shall dwell in the 
House of the Lord forever. 

Now, he himself was ready to join the 
pioneers who had gone before. 

His ship had sailed what time it might 
the inland seas of life, and now it was 
putting out again for the shining port 
across the immeasurable deep. The cap- 
tain was not afraid. From his character 
and career, we may well believe that he 
held the sentiment of Tennyson's Hnes : — 

Sunset and evening star, 

And one clear call for me ! 
And may there be no moaning of the bar, 

When I put out to sea. 

Accordingly, in the twilight of the 
next Monday evening, while the nephew 
was sitting by the bedside, the uncle 
alluded to the fact that he was growing 
weaker. Then the nephew said: **I 
trust not, uncle. I hope you will take 
a turn for the better and soon be up and 
in good health.*' 

42 James Grant 

"No, son,'* said Judge Grant, **I am 
dying," and with that, he extended his 
right hand, placed it in a friendly clasp 
upon the hand of his nephew, and quietly 
passed away March 14, 1891. 

He had been abashed, like Lincoln, by 
the multitude of creeds and formulas 
with which men had been pleased to 
hedge about the Deity, and realizing 
the sacredness of the relationship be- 
tween man and his Creator, and the 
sanctity of Hfe itself, he had gone about 
the doing of the work which he was 
sent to do with a hearty good will, and 
having achieved it, he went to his rest 
without any misgivings, and happily, 
without any apparent suffering. 

By his will he left a fortune amounting 
to more than six hundred thousand 
dollars to be divided between his wife, 
his nephews and nieces. He had lived 
an open-handed life, moreover, giving 
freely to all that asked of him, and in- 
cluding a handsome donation to his 
Alma Mater. 

Thus was begun and continued and 
ended the life of James Grant, a model